Drug-driving is estimated to cause around 200 deaths per year in the UK, according to the Department for Transport.
On 2 March 2015, in England and Wales, it became illegal to drive when over specified limits for certain controlled drugs. Illegal drugs, such as such as cannabis and cocaine, have very low specified limits while certain medicines have limits set higher than those expected for normal therapeutic doses.
There is a defence available for someone who is over the limit but who has been taking prescribed drugs in accordance with medical or dental instructions, and whose driving has not caused the other person’s driving to be impaired as a result.
Testing will be carried out by the use of roadside testing kits and forensic analysis of blood samples taken at police stations to establish which drugs are involved and the quantity found in the blood.
A convicted offender of drug driving is subject to a minimum of a 1 year driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000, up to 6 months imprisonment and a criminal record.
There have already been two arrests for drug driving in Essex and no doubt, there will be many more.
Employers are advised to check that their vehicle and driving policies and substance misuse policies respectively adequately reflect the current legal position.